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50s Kay Bass, Should I Fix It?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by SleeperMan2000, Aug 20, 2002.

  1. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    I bought a 50s Kay Bass for $1600. After playing it for 4 months I had it looked at by a luthier to see if the setup was ok.

    He said the fingerboard was warped and a new bridge would need to be cut. New Fingerboard + Installation + New Bridge Cut = $1000.

    Is it worth putting any more $ into this thing?

    I don't have pics, but it is not in great shape and has some touch up with grey spraypaint.

    I've only been playing 4 months and am taking lessons. I am definitely a non-gigging student. I would like to play this thing a few more years before I trade up, but I'm afriad w/o proper setup I'll break my hand long before that!

    Any advice would be great. Thanks all.
  2. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN

    I feel for ya man. I guess it's just plain stupid, now, to ask why? When you drop down a huge chunk of dough, you wanna it to be backed-up with the opinion of a luthier or a serious musician who can assess the quality and value of the instrument.

    Anyway, you are now in a situation where you are potentially "damned if you do and damned if you don't". I'll leave it to the Lex Luthiers to help you out on that, but I will say that a 50's Kay can easily sell for $2600 if it is a good bass. So you can get your money back, maybe, when you decide to trade up.

    ..........and did I hear you say, "grey paint"?

  3. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    I'm working the angle of trading it now with the guy I bought it from. He is so far amenable to it and runs about 40 Kay Basses through his shop in a year (or so he claims). It means the money will be spent on upgrading to a better old Kay Bass (hopefully). If we can work a deal I'll include the opinion of a luthier in the decision. Live and learn.

    I've also been offered to trade it in for a new one by a local dealer. He says they are the "good" Chinese ones (not Cremona or their ilk). I think I'll stick with Vintage though. I played a new Englehart and the Kay, even with the warped fingerboard, sounded better.
  4. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC

    I did some more homework, called every luthier in NC on Bob Gollihur's list. Found one in next town that will fix it for under $400.

    Will check them out next week.
  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    The sting of poor quality will surely outlast the joy of a low price...Spend the money, get the job done right, and you'll have many years of enjoyment from the bass.
  6. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    thanks for the advice, I called them all and interviewed them. Trying to find one that works on basses, not just cellos and violins. (Basses are the same thing, only bigger, right?).

    think I found my luthier. this guy is a upright bass player as well and started working on his own instruments.
  7. moondoggie


    Dec 22, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I Learned a good lesson when I bought my first bass. I recognized a couple of problems that needed to be fixed and negotiated a price. Well, when I found a good luthier, he found a couple of more things that needed attention. He told me that next time, I should bring him the bass first and he would go over it, free of charge. Then I would know how much the bass was going to end up costing me. I looked at a bass that I was interested in and offered to pay for an evaluation. It cost me thirty dollars (I was out of town and found a luthier) to find out the bass was in terrible shape, and wasn't worth the money......Hope this helps someone

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